What small car could tow

I’m looking to downsize my pickup with a small car. I only have an occasional need to tow short distances. The load is light less than 800 lbs with a distance of 40 miles that are mostly flat. I might go 180 miles at the very most.

Would any small car work with that light of load 3-5 x a year without burning up the transmission or causing other damage?

If not are there recommendations?


Oftentimes when people say their load is 800 pounds, they forget to include the weight of the trailer in that. Just making sure you didn’t.

The 2010 Honda Civic has a 1,500 lb towing capacity.

There are probably mid-size cars that will still get better gas mileage than your pickup and will be more reasonable for towing than a small car.

Have you considered renting a pickup when you need it?


I have an '07 Nissan Altima with a 2.5 4 cylinder engine and a 6 speed manual transmission.
I use it for towing motorcycles on a fairly regular basis, and have towed cross country 5 times with varying motorcycle weights from Denver to NYC and back.

I use a 4x8 Harbor Freight trailer to do all this hauling, also.

The car is fine.

I’ve also used a '96 Geo Prism with an automatic to tow a motorcycle from NYC to Kingston, Ontario. It also did perfectly fine, and that was a small, crappy U-Haul open trailer thing, that should have been in a junkyard instead of on a lot for rental, but it was the only one available, and I NEEDED to use it.

You can use just about any car that can tow 1k + lbs to tow with, as long as you are smart about how you load the trailer, and ensure the brakes are in good condition, and that you can install a hitch receiver on the car.

Manual transmission is preferred by me over automatics, but if you install a cooler for the transmission in the auto, it will help keep the temps lower.


I can remember pulling a trailer with a sail boat on it. The keel was over 900 lbs alone. When we were backing it down the ramp, it got loose and smashed a number of 2x8s. That was a fun summer.

Towing weights often don’t tell the entire story. Aerodynamics has as much to do with it as anything. A small sailboat with excellent aerodynamics can be towed at higher speeds easier than other loads of the same weight with less stress on the tow vehicle. Being more specific about the load, and speed is helpful. “Less than 800 Lbs” is a too vague. Generally, any compact that specifically isn’t restricted from towing, can handle that weight with ease at lower speeds. Try towing even 500 lbs with poor aerodynamics at 70+ MPH with a compact is asking for trouble. Otherwise, it can be done prudently.
Personally, if towing much was in my future, a compact 4 cyl PU in 2wd is both economical and capable and always my first choice.

Finding a decent hitch for some cars is almost impossible…When it comes time to sell the car, savvy buyers will walk away when they spot the hitch…

We are not going to write your article for you. Sorry.

Speaking as an ex-journalist, it’s a good idea to learn to do your own research with primary sources (i.e., manufacturer data, not randos on an internet forum) or consider a different profession.


As discussed ten years ago, the new cars are pretty much 4 cyl. with turbos and do not recommend any towing or 1000-1500# at most. Why? Good question. When you go to Europe, you’ll see all kinds of small cars pulling camping trailers for the weekend and they seem to do just fine. So if I were doing the article I’d want to answer the question of why it’s OK in the UK and not here.

I have a 2012 Toyota Corolla that is rated to tow 1500lbs.
That’s only including the driver, no passengers or cargo.

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